Forty Three.

How to line-up work when you don’t know when you might have childcare again.

This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from digital content consultant and journalist Suzanne Locke. She says:

“How do you even think about pitching for new work — when you have none — and when you don’t know when you’ll have childcare again…?! I’m a solo parent with a toddler!”

• • • • •

This episode is supported by Nutmeg.

Nutmeg offers customers a high-quality investment service at a reduced cost, whether they have £500 or £5 million to invest. Nutmeg now manages over £2bn on behalf of over 80,000 customers, making Nutmeg one of the UK’s fastest growing wealth managers and the fifth largest wealth manager in the UK by customer numbers (Source: PAM Asset Management, January 2019).

[Risk warning: Capital at risk. JISA rules apply]

Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.

Here’s what was said in this episode:

Comments on the previous episode:

[00:01:34] – Frankie
Hello, you’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast, where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie and this is Steve.

[00:01:44] – Steve
Hello. Yes. So each week we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community, do our best to answer it, but of course, we start each episode by looking back at last week’s episode and your comments to it. Last week’s episode was…

[00:01:58] – Frankie
It was Richard struggling with motivation.

Steve, fellow Steve! Steve Morgan says,

“I relate so hard to Richard. My motivation has been hit hard by the current situation. I don’t know anyone whose hasn’t. One thing that’s been saving my sanity is that as soon as the lockdown was announced and my co-working space closed, they launched a lunch hour at weekday lunchtimes, where members could jump into a video call and just chat and hang out, much like we would have done if we’d been there all day.

Not many people jump in, maybe like two or three people each day, but it’s been so good just to catch up with familiar faces. I appreciate that not all co-working spaces have done this, but I guess people could start their own with their mates and close contacts?

A member of the co-working space has also started a daily accountability thread on the space’s Facebook group, where we all jump in with that day’s work to do list and give each other some moral support. And at the end of the day, she asks everyone how they got on. I imagine most people reply while weeping onto their keyboard. I know I do! But it’s been a really good way to collectively give ourselves that much needed bum kick.”

[00:02:57] – Steve
That’s a nice idea. We were talking about how to get accountability, weren’t we?

[00:03:01] – Frankie
Yeah, simple. I mean, maybe I should start one in the community?

[00:03:06] – Steve
Yes, I was going to say.

[00:03:08] – Frankie
Is that a hint, Steve?

Our answer to this week's question:

[00:05:48] – Steve
Okay. Episode 43. Here we go with a question from Suzanne Locke, founder of Locke Digital. It’s L-O-C-K-E by the way. It’s a strong name, isn’t it?

[00:06:01] – Frankie
Isn’t it?

[00:06:02] – Steve
Locke Digital. I wish I had a name like that.

[00:06:04] – Frankie
Yeah, it’s good.

[00:06:05] – Steve
Suzanne says,

“How do you even think about pitching for new work when you have none and when you don’t know when you’ll have childcare again? I’m a solo parent with a toddler.”

That’s it. It’s a short one.

Quite simply — lockdown is on, she doesn’t have childcare, doesn’t know when she will. So how on earth does she go about pitching for new work? You see, one thing here is about the term ‘pitching’, because in my head, it kind of suggests that here is a piece of work, somebody has the work, they have the money, they want to give it to somebody who wants to do this piece of work. And then lots of people can pitch for that work. And the person will pick one of those people to do the work. In my head, that’s what pitching is. And therefore, there’s kind of like a time sensitive thing to it. It feels like that work needs to happen soon.

[00:07:10] – Frankie
I see what you mean. Yeah.

[00:07:11] – Steve
Right? In which case I probably wouldn’t if I couldn’t do it!

[00:07:16] – Frankie

[00:07:17] – Steve
If that is the case, then do you really want to pitch for that work if there’s a risk you might get it? Sounds weird saying that… But then that becomes an almighty stress on you.

[00:07:28] – Frankie
And also, there’s a lot of work involved in pitching for work. You don’t want to break your back stressing yourself out just to pitch and then potentially get it and not be able to do it. That’s just a whole world of pain, isn’t it?

[00:07:42] – Steve
I guess there’s an element of this where, you could perhaps win the work and then outsource some of the work? Outsourcing doesn’t literally have to mean handing it to somebody else to do it. It could be, depending on what the work is — you could build a team of, as in, like… you still get to oversee it. It still has the Locke feel to it.

And maybe this is an opportunity out of this situation, whereby you’ll start trying that out and that will become something you like (or you don’t). But if you do like it, who knows? That might change the way you run your business when we come out the other side of this.

[00:08:18] – Frankie
Yeah, I get the impression from Suzanne’s website that it’s just her. There’s a lot of pictures of her. It feels like a very personal brand type business. Not to say that doesn’t mean you can’t outsource, but what I’m saying is — as you’ve mentioned — maybe this is an opportunity to look at working with other people, building a team, taking that step towards having people plug into your offer beyond yourself. But then the thing is that takes time and energy and thought.

[00:08:49] – Steve
I am convinced though that you can be a personal person and business while still also using other people to provide some of that service.

[00:09:00] – Frankie
Well, it’s basically what you do, isn’t it?

[00:09:01] – Steve
Yeah, that’s why I’m convinced you can do it!

[00:09:05] – Frankie
Do you think it’s realistic for her to be able to start to do that in current scenes with a toddler?

[00:09:12] – Steve
Kind of.

I wouldn’t underestimate how much time is suddenly taken with even just managing people. But you might be able to do that first thing or at the end of a day, or in naps, depending on the age of your child. So that is doable. But also, you need to be able to pay those people and that is a serious thing to consider because the likelihood is you would have to pay them before your client pays you. Yeah, so you don’t want to fall into that trap.

So there’s one thing — you could pitch for the work anyway and then figure out a way to do the work without necessarily doing all of the work.

[00:10:00] – Frankie
The other option is… not ‘pivoting’ exactly, but looking at different ways to get paid for what you do. Repurposing, repackaging. So rather than committing to a big payment for a lot of input, she could get lots of people to sign up for an hour, 2 hours, what do they call it…?

[00:10:19] – Steve
A power hour.

[00:10:20] – Frankie
Yeah, a power hour type thing.

There’s actually been some great threads in the community about this — like setting up automated ways of people just booking in without you even having to be part of the process. You decide what times you’re available or not available. It’s all on your terms, they pay up front, blah blah blah. That could be a nice way to work around your kid and your schedule. Yes it would be at a lower price point, but you could sell it to more people.

[00:10:42] – Steve
It’s a really great idea. Whether or not it works when you’re a solo parent in lockdown with no childcare is another thing because again — how do you even specify when you’re available and when you’re not available in that scenario?

[00:10:56] – Frankie
Depends when your kid goes to sleep as well…

[00:10:59] – Steve

However, maybe you could offer a thing where… who did we have? We had John Esperian on the Being Freelance podcast and he does a thing where he will review your LinkedIn profile, but rather than arrange a one on one call where he will give you feedback and chat to you, he records a video doing it.

[00:11:23] – Frankie
Now we’re talking. Yeah!

[00:11:24] – Steve
Therefore he can do it on his own terms when he wants to do it and deliver it to you.

[00:11:30] – Frankie
Also you could pick it up and put it down, right? Yeah. You wouldn’t have to do that all in one sitting. Yeah, that’s a great idea. Do it, Suzanne.

[00:11:44] – Steve
I think the other thing is, instead of thinking of ‘pitching’ for work… maybe the priority is just staying visible so that the work comes to you? Basically, all of the things we’ve ever spoken about — about staying visible, content marketing, social media. Things that you can do in your own time to not ‘pitch’ as such, but to stay out there and helping people so that they eventually come to you. And then it’s up to you to then put them in some form of a queue or reach back out to them when you’re ready.

[00:12:18] – Frankie
Yeah, I got a great email from my hairdresser. As in, like, hair salon. It said, “lockdown is starting to be eased — we’re so excited to be reopening and cutting your hair again soon. Please join our waiting list, here’s how to join our waiting list”. And they were also asking for people to pay a deposit for their next treatment.

[00:12:42] – Steve
So smart.

[00:12:43] – Frankie
Super smart. I signed up for both of those things and I wonder if that’s something that could apply here. Like, to line them up for when you’re ready to go? But not commit to when that is necessarily.

There was nothing in this email about when they would reopen because they didn’t know. It was literally just like, “we know this is coming — here are the things you can do to make sure you’re first in the door.” Basically, because we’ve seen your split ends. We know the deal.

[00:13:07] – Steve
“Dear Mrs. Tortora, we saw your hair whilst frantically scrubbing a big cock and balls off of your bedroom window.”

[00:13:14] – Frankie
That’s not even, like, that far from the truth, because they’re literally the block down from my flat! I can see them from my flat!

[00:13:24] – Steve
There are some things that you can do to keep a client excited once they’ve bitten as well. I mean, you might do this already but where you can perhaps finish them with…

[00:13:38] – Frankie
Where’s this going?

[00:13:39] – Steve
No, with like, a questionnaire!

[00:13:42] – Frankie
OK, yeah.

[00:13:42] – Steve
It’s like this first step in the process. “Okay. So we can’t really get into the meat of what we’re doing together until January (or whenever) but we can get the ball moving now. Here’s a Pinterest board I’d like you to start thinking about”.

[00:13:57] – Frankie

[00:13:58] – Steve
Are there touch points that you can still put in between you hearing from them…

[00:14:03] – Frankie
…and keeping them, like, motivated? Yeah. Like it.

Sian, who took some pictures of us recently — she did some headshots and pictures for the podcast and stuff.

[00:14:13] – Steve
God, that seems like a long time ago.

[00:14:15] – Frankie
I know, different life. We were allowed out on the South Bank.

[00:14:18] – Steve
Well, actually, there was a man trying to get us to move on, security man. “No stopping on the yellow stairs. I know you’re cool, cultural, possibly going to be nominated for an award and are going to need a photo for when it appears in the Guardian. But no stopping on the stairs”.

[00:14:39] – Frankie
But she’s been doing similar stuff on Instagram. She’s been encouraging people to book her — “If you need headshots, I know that can’t happen right now, but you can book me now. You can pay a deposit now”. And then she’s been sharing inspirational pictures of, like… here are some ideas about locations that you might want to use for your upcoming shoot. Like, here are some nice pictures I found of interesting locations. Here are nice pictures I found with different styling and setups and colour and stuff.

[00:15:06] – Steve
Love it. So still keeping them excited.

[00:15:09] – Frankie
Yeah, giving people a means to plan working with her without knowing when they’re going to be able to actually get those images done.

But also, we need to insert, like, the usual speech here — Suzanne is parenting on her own with a child who is potentially one of the most difficult ages. It’s just HARD. So, concentrate on the most important things you can be doing to make sure that you’ve got something lined up for when you’re ready to go — prioritise what those things are and what’s achievable for you in the time that you have.

[00:15:41] – Steve
On the bright side, Suzanne, at least your name plays into having some sort of brilliant pun for a lockdown consultation. Like ‘Locke in lockdown’. L-O-C-K-E. You might have to say it out loud, but hopefully most people will see it and go, “Oh, that is clever!”

Okay, we would love your comments.

[00:16:04] – Frankie
We really would.

[00:16:05] – Steve
More than that, Suzanne would love your comments because she’s just had to listen to us two bang on with very poor advice. So please come to Suzanne’s rescue!

What would your advice be?

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